Monday, December 15, 2008

Gone with the Gum Trees

"Just because it is, doesn't mean it should be"
After a nice long run on the sunny sands of south Sydney, I thought it'd be a great down under re-intro to go and see Baz Luhrmann's latest film, AUSTRALIA. In Australia. With an Australian (Bam).

Two minutes in, we knew we were in trouble. First of all, Nicole Kidman is miscast in this visually stunning overwrought epic/romance/social message/historical period piece! What else? The whole thing would've been tolerable had Hugh Jackman ran around naked the entire time.

Otherwise, the thing is so damn predictable, so agonizingly long--and so shockingly schmaltzy that I found Bam's ongoing armchair monologue ("This is excrutiating"/"I think I'm going to vomit") much more intriguing than the film's dialogue. Take this oft-repeated morsel for example. "Just because it is, doesn't mean it should be." An apt platitude for the film itself!

Bam kept asking me how much longer we had to endure...and I kept repeating, "The Japanese haven't attacked Darwin yet." So when the Japanese finally did bomb-attack Darwin, Nicole Kidman under-fire, I heard Bam exclaim in the seat beside me, "THANK GOD for the Japanese!"

Still, the whole thing was so full of good intentions that at one point--in between one of the 14 climaxes, and only for a second--I did manage to pinch out a tear.


Casper said...

I actually liked it! A bit long -- true. But so over the top in a Gone with the wind kind of crazy way and beautifully shot. I saw it at a screening in NYC that Luhrman attended to answer questions afterwards which made it extra fun!

Tony said...

Hey Jesse -

I liked it too (sorry Bam),even tho it was over long. But that's because Luhrman combined elements from and quoted from so many kinds of films. Casper's right: GTW was in there, any number of American westerns; Australian westerns too: Quigley Down Under, Man from Snowy River ( Jack Thompson is in both Snowy River and Aus.); WWII epics; spoiled rich girl-hunky working man romances;not to mention "Walkabout" (with David Gilpulil), "Rabbit Proof Fence" and many more. I wonder if Luhrman set out to make a filmschool final exam: "Identify all the film genres and movie quotes in "Australia"). Still it was fun.

Mark in DE said...

My aunt saw it and didn't like it much either. I think I'll pass on it.